24 July 2010

Murder she Tattooed

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Niels Arden Oplev

To begin this review, I’ll talk about my recent urge to start reading again. I’ve been a book man myself before in the past, I’ve read quite a few books, maybe not the ones where people are meant to read like Ulysses, The Great Gatsby or To Kill A Mocking Bird or even Charles Dickens work, but i like graphic novels, funny novels and stuff by people who i like, for instance, I’ve read all of Kevin Smith’s books, plus Russell Brand’s biography. I like to be entertained in a different kind of way with a book. And I’ve also read (and who hasn’t) the Dan Brown books, plus all of the Harry Potter series, so as you can tell, I’ve just read Children’s book or teenage books, not great adult novels that challenge you. Now at the moment, a few books will come to mind that are bestsellers or are the books that will probably mark this decade as cultural phenomenon, especially the Twilight saga and Harry Potter. But another group of books that have hit the market with a large European following is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo written by the late Stieg Larsson, the Millennium trilogy as they have been named which recently have been made into a film of the same name, and here is the review for that film. I have not read the books or know anything about them, just that they have been getting praise for a lot of factors.

The film follows the story of Mikael Blomkvist an investigative journalist who after being found guilty of false information about a company, is sentenced to three months in prison. But before he begins his time, he is offered by Henrik Vanger to investigate a murder that happened many years ago, one of his brother’s daughters who went missing, and he wants to find out why and if the missing case is really a murder. Mikael tracks all the family members’ history and begins to find out more about the family. Meanwhile, Lisbeth is a hacker who is following Mikael because of the company she works for and soon helps Mikael with the case by giving him clues and evidence. Mikael tracks Lisbeth, they meet and they begin a teamwork effort into finding out more evidence for the missing girl. Along the way Lisbeth is sexual abused by how new legal guardian, Mikael is attacked several times, Lisbeth and Mikael form a connection and it ends up with a twist ending, where all the evidence points towards one person. It has a great ending and the action really spices up. It has a great pace for a long film, and it isn’t boring, rather the opposite. The abuse scenes are quite a lot to handle, but handled a way that isn’t distasteful.

On a last note, it’s a good film, a good watch and it doesn’t get boring at all. A surprisingly good script, with some good acting, an overall good effort. I haven’t got a bad word to say about it. It does what it says on the tin. A modern European thriller detective movie.


Simon Childs

Francois Dillinger is the boy!

Youth in Revolt – Miguel Arteta

Michael Cera’s plan of world domination seems to be continuing with his latest film, Youth in Revolt, a teenage, coming-of-age comedy about a young man wanting to be better at life, wanting to improve his skills with the ladies. It’s something a little different for Cera, playing two characters, and one being completely different to what you’ve expected from the shy, lonely guy he continually plays throughout his career. There has been a lot of criticism towards Cera seemingly playing the same kind of character in most of his work, but if your that good at something, why not? Many actors before played the same role, the infamous actors such as Marilyn Monroe clearly play the same person but because they are excellent at it, it’s okay. But as you can see, the more and more Cera plays the lead role, taking the film in the direction he wants, he’s becoming an overall better actor and learning new tricks and styles that will hopefully be seen in later work, especially the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. The World where reports suggest a much more mature performance from the Arrested Development actor.

But back to Youth in Revolt, a great little indie flick that showcases Cera in a new way playing Francois as well as playing the 16 year old Nick Twisp, a shy outcast with interests in different things and an eccentric family life. His family go on a cavern holiday and meet Sheeni, the girl of his dreams, they soon fall for each other, but Sheeni has a thing for bad boys, so Nick imagines a new personality for him to use, named Francois, with a deeper accent, a moustache and who’s French, Nick has two sides to himself, one for Sheeni and one for everyday life. It has a lovely romantic storyline involved and it’s defiantly laugh out loud funny in certain parts and does have a good ending, but for some reason, i just didn’t like Sheeni, i just couldn’t get over the fact how much of a dick she is. There are some nice cameos here too with Zach Galifinakis as Nick’s step Dad, Steve Buscemi as his real dad, Ray Liotta who plays a police officer and Justin Long as Sheeni’s old brother. A great little support cast.

Overall, a great film, it’s funny, it’s heart warming and it shows a good performance from Cera especially his take on Francois, the French boy. All his scenes wearing the moustache was pretty funny and i reckon it might become the film before the pinnacle moment of his career where he finally explodes onto the scene of being one of the best comedy actors, maybe not drama actors but defiantly in the realm of comedy. And who knows, the Arrested Development movie could be another great film for Cera too moving him into the position of head of the family, not Jason Bateman!


Simon Childs

Nocturnal enuresis, the posh way of saying bedwetting! (The Pacific Part 4)

Part 4: Directed by Graham Yost

A pick up in pace was needed from the last episode and here it kinda delivers. It’s not what i wanted, but I’m sure it will lead onto new things. With one of the lead characters now back in America, the attention turns to Eugene Sledge and Rob
ert Leckie as they fight in the battle of Cape Gloucester, showing Leckie showing the strain of the war and how it’s affecting him and with Sledge being trained and finally joining the war. It’s a good mix of humour with emotional attachment to the characters as they brave against the horrible conditions that plague the soldiers, especially with the last quarter of the episode showing Leckie in the establishment for soldiers who are either mentally unstable or who have bodily disorders, such as Leckie’s chronic bedwetting. After seeing more Marines like him with severe cases, he realises that he needs to leave and join his crew again. The fact of knowing that people out there who are worse than him is hurting him and he wants to finally get rid of the Japanese in these fights he’s being sent to. Next week’s episode should be good to see where they go next, to see the next island they must fight on and perhaps, Basilone will be shown in his adventures back home. And i must say, i enjoyed the scenes where you can see the physical toll it has on the men in the jungle, where the jungle itself is the enemy. It’s a harrowing thing to think about, not just the people trying to kill you but the environment you’re in as well is trying to harm you.

Simon Childs

19 July 2010

Grand Horse Theft Auto

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 and PS3

Made by the fine developers at Rockstar, well a combination between Rockstar North and Rockstar San Diego, a new massively open world action-adventure Western video game has sprung onto the scene, stealing the year’s nominations and awards for the game of the year and possibly beyond. This game is called Red Dead Redemption. A game you’ve probably heard of and you know plenty of people who have it on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 and a game that threatens to take hours and hours of someone’s life away. Perfect. Just what you expect from Rockstar, being famed for such clas
sics as Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne and the somewhat up and down series of Manhunt. The company is known for its open worlds, but here, for the first time, the Wild West is explored here, covering a massive terrain, taking a good 15 minutes to cover from the east side of the map to the west. And it’s all done on a horse or a carriage, no cars or bikes to speed away. Here everything is turned on its head, and it makes a refreshing change.

The story follows John Marston, in the 1911, he is taken away by government agents to investigate former gang members that he was in, and otherwise his family will be in grave danger. It’s a common plot here, but in these times, it’s something different, and the player is thrown right into the deep end being shown the world around him. And quickly you begin to side with John and the connectio
n you have is very deep for a video game character. He’s a villain and a hero, and with the choices you make in the game, this can change. If you want to kill animals, kill people in the local towns, steal horses or rides, cause general havoc you can, but you’ll known for this behaviour and people will act differently and of course, you’ll be tracked by the sheriffs of the towns and have a bounty over your head. Now if you help the townspeople, save people’s life’s and go general deeds for strangers, you’ll be given fame and fortune and people will be instantly nice to you. So it’s totally up to you how you play this, for me, i was the good guy. I didn’t kill many strangers, only ones that tricked me. Fucking tricky people who stand there wanting help, you get off your horse and then they try to kill you and take the horse. It’s shocking. But that’s what i like about the game. It’s that clever.

All the reviews you’ve read, all the comments your friends have made, the game is quality, throughout it never drops, it may take a little while to getting going in how hard the missions are, but it’s totally worth the pay off. Now i haven’t finished the game yet, but I’ve had a good 12 hours of play with the game, more than enough to finish a regular game like God of War 3 or something similar, but here, at least 50 or 60 (depending how good you are) is needed. The look of the game is stunning, especially with the PS3 engine, the sun setting over the desert landscape is truly spectacular and has one of the best looks for a game I’ve seen on the console, except for Uncharted 2, God of War 3 and Final Fantasy 13. I have not played the online multiplayer but i hear it’s very addictive, but sadly i have my addictions elsewhere with Call of Duty and Fifa. I might check it out one day. But if you have a PS3 or an Xbox 360, and you have a good week or two to spare over the summer, this game is defiantly worth the money. And with the recent announcement of Additional Downloadable Content with new side missions and a mode where people are zombies, yes, zombies, the game could have another 20 or 30 hours thrown on top. Almost as bad as a Final Fantasy game!

VISUALS: The visuals are at the forefront for video games and it’s a high benchmark to follow. You’ll fall in love with the way the game looks 19%

SOUND: A great soundtrack, mixing the Wild West sounds of horses and the environment to the music thrown in along with the sometimes amazing voice acting 18%

GAMEPLAY: Mixing the great points of GTA with the gunplay of Uncharted, it’s evolved the genre to new heights 19%

LASTING APPEAL: Let me know when you’ve 100% the game 20%

SPECIAL FEATURES: Online multiplayer and with up and coming DLC packs 18%


Simon Childs

Jackie Chan’s first Oscar worthy performance since, erm...

The Shinjuku Incident - Derek Yee

Being a massive Jackie Chan fan, well of his martial arts work, not his latest amount of releases like The Tuxedo, but Police Story, the original Rush Hour’s, i heard about the newest and supposedly Chan’s best feature film of recent times, The Shinjuku Incident. And now you may be wondering what makes this film different to all the rest, what stands out about it that will want you to rent or buy it and watch it several times. Well it’s because for the first time in Jackie Chan’s career, he’s acting. He’s performing without his moves, without his feet and fists, but with his mind and emotion. It’s a great change for him and shows that Chan is both an acting legend and a fighting legend. With the recent release of the newly remade Karate Kid, Chan (which you’ll find out more about in the next couple of weeks with a review of) clearly takes lessons from this film to add a new dimension to his work, mixing his martial arts background with his newly found acting chops. It’s a refreshing change. And so The Shinjuku Incident deserves its credit and deserves its applause.

The film follows Chan as a Chinese immigrant newly in Japan after searching for his fiancĂ© and living with his “brother”, he finds that life for the Chinese is very difficult in the suburbs of Japan, where police, gangs and regular town folk are against you. After saving a policeman’s life, Chan’s friendly mentality soon changes when he wants to become legal in the country and begins different scamming jobs where he works with his “brothers” and they soon find themselves with more money. Unfortunately one of his scam means trouble for his “brother” Jie, who has his hand sliced off and cuts to his face. After swearing for revenge, Chan goes to the place of the man who did this to his brother, and he cuts of his hand and also saves a leader of one of the biggest gangs in Japan. This leads to Chan being employed for him and a whole heap of trouble erupts. I won’t ruin the ending but it’s pretty amazing how it all ends up. Really does spring up on you. It has an original storyline which makes it even more impressive and for an Asian cinema release, you can tell the American influences in the filmmaking but at the same time defiantly has the feel of Chinese cinema making.

Overall, a great little film that i had no idea about that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. It’s a great introduction into Asian cinema that doesn’t have weird incest storylines or horrific horror involved, well maybe just the scene where the hand gets cut off, but that’s about it really.


Simon Childs

Green Zone is nothing like the Green Zone level in Sonic the Hedgehog!

Green Zone - Paul Greengrass

Touted as being a Jason Bourne rip-off with obvious political meanings, Matt Damon’s summer blockbuster of the year Green Zone, which was somewhat under the radar when released, arrives on DVD this month, and here is a review that may shock you. I liked the film. Many people are slamming this film, calling it boring, political, predictable ending, a poor script and mediocre acting, but i think it’s a rather good action film steeped in modern warfare involving issues that have not been explored in cinema lately. We’ve all seen films that parade war to be bad, to be worthless and scream the hidden meaning that every war is pointless. Yes, i totally agree that war is unnecessarily in most situations, where violence isn’t needed, but here the WMD argument, if there really was Weapons of Mass Destruction, and if the American army really needed to invade Iraq to find these weapons or if it was a ruse just to take control of the country. Talking about a subject that has made massive presence in the media in the past, well the last ten years or so since 9/11, it’s a subject that i know a little information about but not entirely sure of. I haven’t researched the subject, but I’ve just picked up a thing here and there.

The plot of Green Zone follows Matt Damon who plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller who is in Iraq investigating places where WMD’s are said to be, where intelligence has pinpointed areas which are “hot”. After going to these places and finding nothing of the sort, Miller begins to question the intelligence. And from there, the whole plot unravels, revealing bad intelligence, hidden meanings behind the war and dodgy connections in the army and the CIA. It starts off slow but slowly builds up having scenes of action involving shoot outs and the team searching the areas to then cutting to the heads of the departments talking, trying to figure out what’s going on. Through in a storyline involving a reporter who leaks the information about WMD’s existing, you soon begin to understand that maybe WMD’s never existed and that Iraq was invaded for other reasons. It has a great ending and a great end set piece involving Miller going rogue, finding one of the last Iraq Army higher ups and trying to help him. Some great acting by support cast Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson and Greg Kinnear, but Matt Damon clearly steals the show, being this is a Matt Damon vehicle.

Many people may argue that this is a Bourne 4 with political meanings, but i don’t think it is. Bourne films are more about the action and the chase, here it’s more about the overall image, and action only occurs when it’s needs to to further the story. So go check it outs, it’s worth a watch.


Simon Childs

The Long and Winding Road...

The Road - John Hillcoat

Over the vast amount of films I’ve reviewed so far, the amount of blockbuster hits, the number of small indie flicks that blew me away to the pile of shit films that fill the gap in-between the good ones, The Road was a hard one to pinpoint before i finally sat down to watch it. And coming away from it, sadly it falls into the category of being a film that I’m just not interested in, it didn’t excite me, it didn’t entertain me. I know what it was trying to do, it was trying to encourage emotion the audience, show them a realistic storyline where they understand the realness of a situation of the world ending and civilisation collapsing and how hard it really would be. There have been a massive explosion of films recently showing a post apocalyptic world like The Book of Eli, 2012, Legion to a certain extent, and all of them give a take on how the average man or woman would cope. It’s becoming very boring now and the formula seems to be the same where the strong man takes control and looks after a family, a woman or a child.

The plot follows a father played by the awesome actor Viggo Mortensen, who i have much appreciation for, and in this film, he does play a heart breaking performance and it’s great, but it’s just a shame it’s a boringly paced film. I come to see something that entertains, that sits me down for an hour and a half or longer and takes me into a new world, shows me things I’ve never seen and just dream almost. Well that’s my view on cinema, it’s a form of entertainment, like a television show, or an album or theatre, and I want to be happy afterwards, I want to feel fulfilled. Anyway back to the film, a father played by Mortensen and a his boy played by the up and coming child actor Kodi Smit-McPhee who you’ll be seeing in the next massive film Let Me In, the remake of the fantastic Swedish film Let The Right One In, and how they survive in a world where shits gone down, and most people are dead, towns are deserted, houses destroyed, people turning into cannibals, it’s horrible. And through the use of flashback, the story of the family, where the mother kills herself and the two must survive no food or water, and how the little things matter. Throw in some runnings with some evil characters, some funny parts and some pretty dramatic sad parts, it’s very slowly paced.

So overall, a pretty boring film, i can’t write much more about a film i had no interest in and that I’m sure you’ll find the same unless you find it all attractive and like the fact it’s all doom and gloom. True the cinematography is good, the setting is doom-y and lovely and stuff, but it just doesn’t cut it for me.


Simon Childs

Trailer Watch XV

Hey readers, we here at Popcorn Paradise are now going to change the regular showing of new trailers for every week, instead, we are going to unload a heavy dose of trailerage to your lovely eyes once a month, showing you the latest releases from the 15th to the next months 15th. It will hopefully show you the latest and greatest and be the best 20 trailers released from films coming out next month or next year. We hope you enjoy!

1. Knight and Day

2. Charlie St. Cloud

3. Grown Ups

4. Splice

5. Rio

6. The Killer Inside Me

7. Alpha and Omega

8. Somewhere

9. Never Let Me Go

10. Paper Man

11. The Town

12. The Social Network

13. Little Fockers

14. Rango

15. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

16. RED

17. Paranormal Activity 2

18. Piranha 3D

19. Winters Bone

20. Welcome to the Rileys